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The border friction between India and China is no accident but “a planned move" by New Delhi to seize territory, an article in China’s state-run Global Times said, warning the move risks escalating standoffs and conflicts between the two countries.

The article blamed India’s “illegally constructed defence facilities across the border into Chinese territory in the Galwan Valley region", for the rising tensions, with both countries bringing in reinforcements along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) border in the western Ladakh sector.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday held consultations with the three service chiefs and national security adviser Ajit Doval amid the rise in border tensions.

Indian troops sent to the LAC are ready for the long haul, a person familiar with the development said on condition of anonymity. Without specifying numbers, he said they were in sufficient strength to match the opposing side. News reports have put the number of Chinese soldiers along the LAC at between 1,200 and 5,000. There was no official confirmation of these numbers.

Details of Modi’s meeting were not known but it comes as several rounds of talks at the level of brigade commanders have not yielded results, with political and diplomatic intervention expected to break the deadlock. Separately, defence minister Rajnath Singh also met the chiefs of the three services and the chief of defence staff Bipin Rawat on Tuesday.

In Beijing, president Xi Jinping said on Tuesday that China would step up its preparedness for armed combat and improve its ability to carry out military tasks as the coronavirus pandemic is having a profound impact on national security, a Reuters report said. Though it appeared unrelated to the India-China tensions, the comments are nevertheless seen as significant.

The Global Times piece is expected to add to India-China tensions, which are already running high with skirmishes at several points across a 3,488-km LAC, mainly in Ladakh, but also in Sikkim.

The border tensions are expected to figure in the Indian Army’s biannual commanders’ conference in New Delhi that starts on Wednesday and ends on Friday. “The apex level leadership of the Indian army will brainstorm on current emerging security and administrative challenges and chart the future course for the Indian army," an army statement said.

According to the Global Times article published on Monday, “Unlike previous standoffs, the latest border friction was not caused by accident, but was a planned move of New Delhi. India has been clearly and definitely aware that the Galwan Valley region is Chinese territory. If India failed to stop such provocations as soon as possible, it will impact on Beijing-New Delhi ties—and may even exceed the sort of intensity of the (2017) Doklam standoff," said the article by Long Xingchun, a senior research fellow of Academy of Regional and Global Governance, Beijing Foreign Studies University and president of Chengdu Institute of World Affairs.

The Doklam stand-off in Bhutan lasted 73 days, Long said. But thanks to contacts between the leadership at the highest levels through the informal summits in Wuhan in 2018 and Chennai in 2019, “strategic trust was restored."

“The results have not come easily and should be cherished by both sides," the article said.

According to former Indian ambassador to China, Gautam Bambawale, “My answer to this would be, let us clarify the LAC. If we do that, then the two armies will not cross into what is perceived as the other’s territory."

Bambawale said the current tensions were due to the fact that both sides had developed infrastructure along the LAC,. “The answer to this would be to develop mechanisms in the next one year that will prevent this from happening from next summer."

The Global Times article also pointed to a possible link between India’s action on the border with the slowing Chinese economy and some countries in the West blaming China for the spread of covid-19. The article said some quarters in India believed this to be an opportunity to take advantage of.

“Some Indians believe slowed Chinese economy growth and some Western countries’ blame game provide them a great opportunity where the border issue will fall to their advantage amid the covid-19 pandemic," the article said, warning against such thinking.

“However, this speculative mind game is based on an incorrect judgement of the international order and China’s national condition. This is flawed logic and ultimately detrimental to India," it said. China has effectively curbed the covid-19 pandemic with businesses resuming and life returning to normal, it said. “This demonstrates the strong leadership of the Chinese government and firm social cohesion in China," the article said.

In contrast, in India, the number of covid-19 infections were climbing, surpassing the numbers of China and “the inflection point" is yet to come. “Currently, India’s top priority should be handling the epidemic and restoring economy rather than instigating border disputes," the article said.

“The Indian government should keep a sober head to not be used as cannon ash by the US," it said, adding later that “the Trump administration encourages India to be tough on China so as to provoke and profit from the China-India disputes."

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